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How Interpretation Makes International Law – On Semantic Change and Normative Twists - Oxford Scholarship Online
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How Interpretation Makes International Law: On Semantic Change and Normative Twists

Ingo Venzke


The texts of international law cannot talk — they are talked about. They passively submit to the need for interpretation and gain meaning in their use. Contrary to classic and still pervasive narrative suggesting that sovereign states make the law that constraints them, the book shows that in many and most constellations the contents of legal commitments is the product interpretation which shifts meanings and makes law. In the practice of interpretation actors compete over what the law really says and contribute to its making. What then matters in such discourse is an actor’s semantic authorit ... More

Keywords: international lawmaking, sources of international law, interpretation, legitimacy, international institutions, semantic pragmatism, legal discourse, formalism, politics of international law

Bibliographic Information

Print publication date: 2012 Print ISBN-13: 9780199657674
Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2013 DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199657674.001.0001


Affiliations are at time of print publication.

Ingo Venzke, author
Research Fellow and Lecturer, Amsterdam Center for International Law, University of Amsterdam